“When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order.”
Luke 11:25 NIV
Last year I went through a mega-transformation. I made a commitment to God and myself to change the way I was eating and, as a result, ended up losing 85 pounds. The biggest change I had to make was actually the “why” of eating – food needed to go back to being just fuel. For longer than I care to admit, it had been doing nearly everything but that. Food had become a way to self-medicate (numb) the stress of life.
So, a huge part of this transformation was retraining my brain to seek out other ways to deal with stress, which is a two-fold solution:
- STOP the impulse to reach for a salty/sweet distraction.
- START practicing a healthy alternative.
I found that if I only address step one, the second I’m not being mindful or my stress reaches a 7 or higher (on a scale of 1-10) it’s not so easy to stop anymore. In fact, experts in the field of women’s health have found that many times women who experience significant weightloss often fall into alcohol addiction. They didn’t address the REAL problem – they just shifted to another unhealthy way of self-medicating.
The crazy thing is that this is not a new problem. Jesus talked about it in his lifetime back in the book of Luke. The problem in his day was people being possessed by evil spirits. **I know that sounds intense, but sometimes I wonder if it was much different than our “possessions” today – possessed/controlled by the drive to have the perfect job, the perfect body, the perfect mate.** Check out what he said about it:
24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:24-26 NIV)
It’s not enough to just clean house. You’ve got to get rid of the bad AND replace it with good. An empty space aches to be filled – it will not be ignored.
When I was controlled by the desire to numb my stress, it put me in the category of “morbidly obese”. When I acknowledge that God’s actually in charge of the details of my life, I find myself in a dramatically different category. And, don’t get me wrong, it’s still a daily battle. It seems like at least once every single day I’m tempted to let stress and worry control my impulses. Honestly, some days that temptation wins and I say, eat, or do something I regret. But not every day anymore. 🙂
I’m learning how to self-medicate with prayer.
Dear Lord, I don’t know how you have so much patience for all these silly things we do. And it’s not just patience, it’s a loving, grace-soaked patience. You delight in helping us realizing how much we can lean into you and your perfect peace. I’m so sorry for all the times I let something or someone help me navigate my stress and my joy rather than you. Transform the control-freak in me into an impulse to pray. Amen.